Suphanburi claim TPL lead; BK Glass deny Muangthong

Suphanburi tentatively moved to the top of the Thai Premier League on Saturday evening after recording a 3-1 win over Saraburi at the Saraburi Stadium.

The War Elephants broke the deadlock seven minutes before halftime when Jakkapan Pornsai found space down the right, and proceeded to unleash a powerful drive that took a wicked deflection off Tinnakorn Asurin and looped over a hapless Pisan Dorkmaikaew.

However, Saraburi pulled level in similar fashion in the 64th minute; Tanongsak Promdard latching onto Bernard Henri’s layoff and benefitting from Nattaphong Samana’s inadvertent touch to find the bottom corner.

But eight minutes later, the visitors reclaimed the lead through a fine individual effort from Jakkapan as he carved open the opposition defence with a scintillating burst of pace, before calmly finishing into the back of the net.

And with 15 minutes remaining, Jakkapan then turned provider as he played a slide-rule pass to release Andre Luis, who made no mistake in slotting through Pisan’s legs to seal the win for the visitors.

Over at the Leo Stadium, there was no separating Bangkok Glass and Muangthong United as they played out a 0-0 draw in what proved to be an entertaining encounter.

Both sides had their fair share of chances but it was the Twin Qilins who came closest when Piyaphon Phanichakul’s long throw bounced over Narit Taweekul and crossed the line before being cleared.

Thinking that someone had gotten a touch onto the ball, the referee initially awarded the goal but – following some heated protests by the Glass Rabbits – overturned his decision.

Although they ultimately did enough to earn a share of the spoils, the hosts did finish the game with ten men after captain Peerapong Pichitchotirat was sent off in the final minute for a second bookable offence.

Meanwhile, BEC Tero Sasana finally got their first win of the campaign at the third time of asking after beating Port 2-0 at the 72-years Anniversary Stadium.

The Fire Dragons opened the scoring after 11 minutes when Chitchanok Xaysensourinthone beat the offside trap and poked the ball past the onrushing Worawut Kaewpook, leaving himself with the simplest of finishes.

Five minutes before the break, a horrible gaffe from Worawut saw him come out to the edge of the box to deal with a back-pass but he completely missed his attempted clearance, allowing Adisak Kraisorn to stroll through and slot into the unguarded goal to wrap up the three points for BEC Tero.

In Saturday’s final game, Chainat also won for the first time in 2015 after recording a 2-1 victory over Chiangrai United at the Chainat Stadium.

Brazilian striker Alex put the hosts in front after only five minutes, when he lined up a freekick on the edge of the box and curled a lovely effort into the top corner.

Seven minutes later, Chainat doubled their tally as Surachet Ngamtip did well to burst down the left and hit the byline before cutting the ball back to Laksana Kamruen, who smashed a first-time effort into the roof of the net.

Chiangrai did reduce the deficit in the 20th minute after a Phichitphong Choeichiu freekick from the left sailed over a sea of players before finding its way over the line.

Nonetheless, the visitors were just unable to find an equaliser and ultimately fell to their second defeat in as many games.

Saturday’s Thai Premier League Results

Chainat 2-1 Chiangrai United

Saraburi 1-3 Suphanburi

Bangkok Glass 0-0 Muangthong United

BEC Tero Sasana 2-0 Port

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Stallion edge Loyola; Global bounce back with big win

Loyola Meralco Sparks were handed their first defeat of the 2015 United Football League season after being beaten 2-1 by Stallion FC on Saturday evening.

The Sparks entered the game at the Rizal Memorial Stadium having won their opening three games of the campaign, and it initially looked as though they would be extending that streak when James Younghusband fired them ahead in the 19th minute.

However, Stallion pulled level in the 51st minute when Mario Clarino headed home a precise cross from Jordan Mintah and, nine minute after the hour mark, went on to claim maximum points after substitute Fitch Arboleda latched onto Ruben Doctora’s layoff and fired home what proved to be the winner.

Meanwhile, defending champions Global bounced back from Wednesday’s heavy 6-1 defeat to South China in the AFC Cup by cruising to a 5-0 win over struggling Philippine Army-GTI.

Leigh Manson’s charges broke the deadlock in the 21st minute when Renato Gonzalez opened the scoring, before Hikaru Minegishi doubled their lead five minutes later after racing through and chipping the ball over the onrushing Seo Seung-seok.

The contest was effectively over five minutes before the break when Satoshi Otomo somehow found the back of the net from a tight angle despite being under intense pressue, and a fourth goal arrived in the 64th minute when Rolf Schlettwein netted his first goal for the club.

And in the second minute of injury-time, the rout was completed when Mark Hartmann notched his fifth goal of the campaign with a lovely curling effort from outside the box to cap off a convincing win for Global.

In Saturday’s opening game, Manila Jeepney got off the mark with their first point of the season after coming from behind to draw 1-1 with Green Archers United.

It was the Archers who had taken the lead four minutes before the interval through a Jimuel Ariola effort, but Park Hyu-sun popped up with the equaliser in the 74th minute to earn his side a share of the spoils.

Saturday’s United Football League Results

Green Archers United 1-1 Manila Jeepney

Global 5-0 Philippine Army-GTI

Loyola Meralco Sparks 1-2 Stallion FC

Persib off to a bang in AFC Cup; Pahang leave it late

Indonesia Super League champions Persib Bandung opened their 2015 AFC Cup Group H campaign in style after cruising to a 4-1 win over Maldives’ New Radiant on Wednesday evening.

Centre-back Achmad Jufriyanto popped up at the other end to score and hand Persib a 15th-minute lead at the Si Jalak Harupat Stadium, before Malian attacker Makan Konate doubled their advantage three minutes before the break.

Right on the stroke of halftime, the contest was effectively over when Atep Rizal added a third for the hosts, although New Radiant pulled one back on the hour mark through a strike from captain Ashad Ali.

Nonetheless, Persib always remained in control of proceedings and wrapped things up in the second minute of injury-time when substitute Yandi Munawar found the back of the net to complete the rout.

The other Group H game saw debutants Lao Toyota come from two goals down to hold Myanmar National League outfit Ayeyawady United to a 2-2 draw at the New Laos National Stadium.

Macedonian striker Riste Naumov had fired the visitors ahead after 21 minutes, and it looked like they were cruising to victory when he doubled his tally in the 57th minute.

But in the 63rd minute, Sitthideth Khantavong reduced the deficit before Phattana Syvilay equalised just two minutes later, which ultimately proved enough to hand Lao Toyota a share of the spoils.

Over in Group G, Pahang of Malaysia left it late to see off Myanmar’s Yadanarbon 3-2 at the Mandalarthiri Stadium.

Tok Gajah were initially in a comfortable position when Dickson Nwakaeme broke the deadlock after six minutes, before finding the back of the net once more in the 12th minute.

However, a Damion Stewart own-goal got Yadanarbon back in the game, and they pulled level ten minutes into the second half when Djedje Maximin successfully converted from the penalty spot.

Just when it looked like a draw was on the cards, Malaysia international R. Gopinathan netted a minute from time to win it for the visitors.

Finally, the other game in Group G saw Philippine debutants Global handed a heavy 6-1 thrashing by Hong Kong’s South China at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Daniel McBreen and Mahama Awal both netted braces and Lo Kong Wai and Chan Wai Ho were also on target for the visitors, while Global’s consolation arrived three minutes before fulltime through a Michael Jonsson strike.

Buriram open ACL campaign with win; Binh Duong defeated

Buriram United got their 2015 AFC Champions League campaign up and running on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Group F opponents Seongnam at the New I-Mobile Stadium.

The Thai Premier League outfit edged ahead in the 17th minute when their opponents’ failure to clear their lines inside the box saw the ball fall into the path of Prakit Deeprom, who firmly placed his shot past Park Jun-huk.

Just two minutes later, Buriram doubled their advantage courtesy of a brilliant individual effort by Gilberto Macena, who received possession inside his own half and embarked on a blistering run past two defenders before finding the bottom corner with a clinical finish.

The Korean visitors did manage to pull one back with two minutes remaining when opposition right-back Narubodin Weerawatnodom, in a bid to intercept Hwang Ui-jo’s right-wing cross, could only deflect the ball into his own goal.

Nonetheless, it ultimately proved to be a mere consolation as the Thunder Castle held out for a deserving win.

The result also means the reigning TPL champions currently share the lead in Group F with Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou R&F, who claimed a 2-0 away win over Japan’s Gamba Osaka courtesy of goals from Abderrazak Hamdallah and Wang Song.

Meanwhile, V.League 1 giants Becamex Binh Duong, Southeast Asia’s other representatives in Asia’s premier club competition, were beaten 3-2 by Shandong Luneng Taishan of China in Group E.

Following a goalless first half at the Go Dau Stadium, the visitors broke the deadlock in the 47th minute when Yang Xu nodded a right-wing cross into the six-yard box, where Wang Yongpo reacted quickest to turn the ball home.

However, Binh Duong equalised a minute later after Ganiyu Oseni latched onto a high ball on the edge of the box and charged towards goal before stabbing his shot into the back of the net.

The hosts then took the lead in the 56th minute through a Wang Qiang own-goal, after the defender got his attempted clearance all wrong and met Le Tan Tai’s looping cross with a powerful header past his own goalkeeper.

But right on the hour mark, it was Shandong’s turn to pull level as Yang climbed highest inside the box and sent a deft header into the far corner.

And nine minutes from time, it was the Chinese outfit that went on to claim the victory after Walter Montillo broke free inside the box and lifted the ball over the onrushing Nguyen Quoc Thien Esele, leaving Yang with the simple task of nodding into the unguarded net for his second goal of the evening.

The other Group E game saw Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Kashiwa Reysol play out a 0-0 draw at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium.

JDT, Persipura claim commanding wins in AFC Cup

Johor Darul Ta’zim were in impressive form on Tuesday as they opened their 2015 AFC Cup Group F campaign with a 4-1 win over East Bengal at the Larkin Stadium.

It took Harimau Selatan just nine minutes to open their account when Nazrin Nawi lined up a freekick 25 yards out from goal, before sending a sublime effort into the top corner.

However, the Indian visitors responded five minutes after the half-hour mark in similar fashion when Ranti Martins’ freekick from the edge of the box deflected off the wall and crept past Izham Tarmizi’s despairing dive.

Nonetheless, the hosts reclaimed the lead four minutes later after Milan Susak had been penalised for handball inside the area, paving the way for Safiq Rahim to confidently convert from the penalty spot.

Three minutes into the second half, their lead was further extended after Jasazrin Jamaluddin beat the offside trap and raced through on goal, before laying the ball into the path of S. Chanturu for an easy tap-in.

And in the 54th minute, the rout was completed when Safee Sali got in on the act, meeting Nazrin’s left-wing cross with an audacious bicycle kick that had Abhijit Mondal beaten all ends up.

In Group F’s other game, Hong Kong giants Kitchee also got off to a winning start as they cruised to a 3-0 win over Singapore’s Balestier Khalsa.

Xu Deshuai broke the deadlock for the hosts at the Mong Kok Stadium in the 21st minute, before second-half strikes from Ngan Lok Fung and Jordi Tarres helped them wrap up the three points.

Over in Group F, Indonesia Super League outfit Persipura Jayapura produced a commanding display to record a 3-1 win over reigning S.League champions Warriors FC at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The visitors took the lead on the half-hour mark when Robertino Pugliara’s pressure on Marin Vidosevic forced the Warriors centre-back to clear the ball straight to Lancine Kone, who made no mistake in drilling his shot past Neezam Aziz.

Four minutes later, it was 2-0 after Pugliara’s flick into the area was cleared only as far as to Boaz Solossa, who sent a lovely left-footed volley on the turn into the top corner.

The contest was effectively over by the 58th minute when another error by Vidosevic saw him lose the ball outside his own box to Pugliara, who advanced on goal before unselfishly squaring the ball for Nelson Alom to tap in from four yards out.

Still, Warriors did manage to pull one back in the 70th minute after substitute Andy Ahmad’s fierce volley came off the bar and bounced off Dede Sulaiman into the back of the net, although it was little more than a consolation.

The other Group E clash saw Bengaluru of India beat Maldivian side Maziya 2-1 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

Lessa sets Persipura sights on AFC Cup final

Persipura Jayapura coach Osvaldo Lessa has challenged his side to go one better in the AFC Cup this year and reach the final of the continental tournament.

The Indonesia Super League giants caused quite a stir in 2014 by reaching the semi-finals of the competition, before they were eliminated by eventual champions Al Qadsia 10-2 on aggregate.

Then, Persipura were under the stewardship of the iconic Jacksen F. Tiago but with the 46-year-old now in charge of Malaysia Premier League outfit Penang, his place has been taken by Lessa.

Although it will be no easy feat, Lessa insists he is unfazed by the task of filling the void left by his fellow Brazilian, and has set his sights on taking his side further in the AFC Cup this season.

“It’s very simple – we are aiming to reach the final,” he said. “Last year we reached the semi-finals so we want to do better.

“It’s a new team with a new coach and we know it’s a very tough competition.

“These tournaments are very different from the league, where you have many games throughout the year to get the results. We will need to start well and pick up the points.

“I don’t think there’s any problem taking over Persipura [after Tiago’s reign].

“That [Tiago’s time in charge of the club] was one part of Persipura’s history. Now, I’m hoping to create a new chapter.”

Mutiara Hitam are yet to kick off their domestic campaign after the start of the Super League was delayed, meaning Tuesday’s Group E opener against Warriors FC will be their first competitive outing of 2015.

Nonetheless, Ivorian attacker Lancine Kone – a new signing from Sriwijaya – insists his team-mates will be ready for the clash against their Singaporean opponents at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

“Of course, it’s difficult to start a competition with no competitive games under our belt,” he said. “But we have to accept the position we find ourselves in.

“Based on the friendly matches we’ve played, we believe we have enough preparation.

“We will be ready for our opponents.”

Persipura are no stranger to continental football and 2015 will be the fifth time in six years they have qualified to play in an AFC club competition.

And Lessa believes this experience of playing on the big stage will be a key factor in his charges’ hopes of getting a positive result in the tournament this season.

“We know the AFC Cup is a difficult competition and it’s even more so when it’s our first competitive game of the season,” the Brazilian added. “But we have prepared for this for two months.

“I’ve watched two of Warriors’ games [in the AFC Champions League qualifiers] and they are a very good team who are compact.

“But Persipura have one little advantage – we have been playing in the AFC Cup regularly throughout the past few years.

“This experience is very important.”

The other two teams making up Group E are Indian debutants Bengaluru and Maziya of Maldives.

Warriors eyeing strong start to AFC Cup campaign

S.League champions Warriors FC will be hoping to get their 2015 AFC Cup campaign off to a positive start when they take on Group E opponents Persipura Jayapura on Tuesday.

The Warriors were initially bidding to qualify for the AFC Champions League but after seeing off Myanmar’s Yadanarbon in the first preliminary round, they had their dreams of playing in Asia’s premier club competition ended by a 3-0 loss to Chinese giants Guangzhou R&F.

However, continental football still awaits them in the form of the AFC Cup and they have been drawn in Group E to face Bengaluru, Maziya and Persipura, who they lock horns with at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Given the nature of the tournament, Warriors boss Alex Weaver is aware of how crucial a strong start will be to their hopes of advancing to the knockout round and has challenged his players to get a positive result against their Indonesian opponents.

“It’s the first game of the group stage and it’s important to do well,” he said.

“There’s perhaps not so much pressure on us to win but we’re coming up against a team that reached the semi-finals of the tournament last year, which tells you a lot about the quality of their team.

“Maybe we feel less pressure given the lack of success Singaporean teams have enjoyed in the competition over the past few years.

“But we put ourselves under lots of pressure every day to be at our best.

“We’ve done well to get here, we’re a good side and we want to get a positive result.”

Nonetheless, the Englishman did brush off suggestions that his side had a slight edge given they already have two competitive games under their belt, while Persipura will be playing their first on Tuesday.

“To be honest, I don’t know if it’s necessarily an advantage,” Weaver explained.

“We’ve played two games but in terms of the structure of our programme, we’re still very much in pre-season.

“I don’t think it’s an advantage or a disadvantage.”

Meanwhile, Warriors midfielder Thomas Beattie is relishing the prospect of testing themselves against quality teams across the continent, especially after being crowned the S.League’s number one side in 2014.

“Playing in continental competition is great experience,” he said. “We worked hard last year to win the S.League and this is a good reward.

“It’s a chance to see where we stand against the better teams of the region, and it’s always nice to travel with the team and experience the different footballing cultures that are on offer.

“We’ve already had good experiences in Myanmar and China [in the Champions League qualifiers] so I’m looking forward to more of it.”

But for now, the immediate task is a home game against a Persipura side with no shortage of experience playing in AFC competitions, and Beattie remains firmly focused on getting Warriors’ campaign off to a strong start.

“We’ve seen a lot of footage of Persipura and we know they’re a strong and athletic side,” the ex-Hougang United man revealed.

“We’re well prepared and we know what to expect from them, so we’re going out there to try and get the result”

Following Tuesday’s clash, Warriors kick off the new S.League season on Sunday evening when they take on Singapore Cup champions Balestier Khalsa, who are also competition in the AFC Cup.